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by Rebecca Kenny June 30, 2019

What is poison ivy?

Poison ivy is a common plant found in many regions in the United States. The leaves, roots, flowers and stems of the poison ivy plant contain an oily substance known as urushiol, which is known to cause allergic reactions to more than 80% of people who come into contact with it. You can come into contact with urushiol by rubbing up against the plant directly, or by touching shoes, clothing or other items that have come into contact with the plant. If you’ve ever come into contact with poison ivy, you’ll understand the rash and severe itchiness it can cause, which is also known as contact dermatitis. Thankfully, the poison ivy rash is not contagious, however it’s important to be mindful of what household items, including clothing, may have also come into contact with the plant.

How to treat a poison ivy rash

In most cases, a poison ivy rash can be treated at home and does not require a trip to the doctor. As hard as it is, try not to scratch your rash as this will make it worse and can cause an infection. We recommend applying a cool compress as soon as possible to relieve the itching. There are a number of over the counter options available to relieve the symptoms of a poison ivy rash, however, it is also possible to treat at home with natural remedies. This can be more affordable while also being better for your health.

Essential oils for poison ivy

Essential oils can be a great way to treat a poison ivy rash due to their soothing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. They are all natural, so you can avoid the nasty chemicals that are often found in over-the-counter solutions. It’s important to dilute your essential oils before applying to the skin, as they can be quite potent and cause irritation if used incorrectly.

Chamomile Essential Oil

If you’re familiar with drinking chamomile tea for relaxation, it may surprise you to know that chamomile essential oil can also work to soothe the skin. Chamomile contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which work to clean the skin and ease irritation.


To use chamomile essential oil for a poison ivy rash, we recommend using a washcloth as a compress. Simply add 2-3 drops of chamomile essential oil to a bowl of room temperature water, submerge the washcloth and wring out excess water before applying to the affected skin.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Known for its antiseptic properties, eucalyptus essential oil is great for cleaning the rash as it will help to remove the residual urushiol, preventing further irritation. It can also help to hydrate the skin, which will prevent flaky skin that can occur towards the end of the healing process.


To use eucalyptus oil for poison ivy, add 2 drops of eucalyptus oil to a bowl of room temperature water. Soak a washcloth in the water, wring out excess water and apply to the affected area. Repeat 2-3 times as needed.

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is best known for its relaxing properties, but it also has some amazing healing qualities. If your rash is quite painful or becomes inflamed, lavender essential oil is a great option as it contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that help to relieve pain.


There is no need to dilute lavender essential oil, unless you have sensitive skin. Simply apply a few drops to the affected area and massage into skin.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

With its cleansing and refreshing scent, tea tree essential oil is a wonderful natural antiseptic. It is often used to treat dermatitis as it effectively cleans and disinfects the skin. Tea tree oil is a great option for keeping your poison ivy rash clean, preventing infection while it heals.


Tea tree essential oil should always be diluted before applying to skin, as its potency can be quite harsh and cause further inflammation. Simply add 1 drop of essential oil to 0.17fl.oz carrier oil before massaging into the affected area.

Peppermint Essential Oil

The cooling properties of peppermint essential oil can help to soothe the itching and pain from a poison ivy rash. Not only does it smell great, but it is also known to help relieve irritation and redness from inflamed skin.


To use peppermint essential oil, we recommend using a compress. Add 2 drops of peppermint oil to a bowl of room temperature water, soak your washcloth, wring out excess water and apply to the affected area.

Safely using essential oils

When using essential oils, please follow the instructions provided to ensure you do not further damage your skin. Many essential oils contain a high potency, and cannot be used directly on the skin. While most poison ivy rashes do not require a visit to the doctor’s office, some people may experience a more severe reaction. If you’re experiencing severe pain or your symptoms are worsening, please see your doctor.

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Rebecca Kenny
Rebecca Kenny

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